Friday, April 29, 2011

Apple Denies That It Tracks The Location Of Its Iphone Customers

Reports surfaced last week that files on some versions of Apples's iPhones and iPads and Android devices running an operating system from Google stored hidden files of locations visited by mobile smartphone users that could be transferred to personal computers (see Hidden Files on iPhone Pose Risk).
Researchers reported that they found hidden files that show where users visited. Apple said the researchers misinterpreted what they found in those files. "The location data that researchers are seeing on the iPhone is not the past or present location of the iPhone, but rather the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding the iPhone's location, which can be more than 100 miles away from the iPhone," Apple said. "We plan to cease backing up this cache in a software update coming soon."
"Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," the company said in a statement issued Wednesday. Apple attributed the brouhaha over security and privacy to the complexity of the devices, technology that's hard to explain in a sound bite. "Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology - including Apple - have not provided enough education about these issues to date." the company said.
Concerns over the appearance that smartphones secretly track the whereabouts of the devices' users have prompted the Senate to hold a hearing May 10 on the matter (see Senate to Probe iPhone, Droid Tracking). "The existence of this information - stored in an unencrypted format - raises serious privacy concerns," Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said in announcing the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing he'll chair.
Apple conceded that some cache location information stored on the iPhone isn't encrypted, and said the next revision of the device's operating system will have that data encrypted.
Apple said the iPhone doesn't log user's locations. The device maintains databases of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around a customer's current location, some of which may be located more than 100 miles away from iPhone to help the smartphone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. Calculating a phone's location using just GPS satellite data can take several minutes and the iPhone can reduce this time to a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, triangulating its location by employing Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is unavailable such as indoors or in basements, Apple said. These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by tens of millions of iPhones sending the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple.
The company said suggestions that it can locate customers based on geo-tagged WiFi hotspots and cell tower data are wrong. Apple said this data is sent to the company in an anonymous and encrypted form. Apple said it cannot identify the source of this data. Apple said a bug will soon be fixed that allows devices to continue to update its Wi-Fi and cell tower data from Apple's crowd-source database even when the feature is turned off.
In the next few weeks, Apple said it would release a free iOS software update that reduces the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone, ceases backing up this cache and deletes this cache entirely when location services is turned off.

By Eric Chabrow, Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity.com (April 27, 2011)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did. Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.
Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something. One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.
After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.
Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable. God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff. Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.
One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town. After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.
After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.
After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')
During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him. Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead. Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Why Did Jesus Fold the Napkin?

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection? I never noticed this....
The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin. Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, 'They have taken the Lord's body out of the tomb, and I don't know where they have put him!'
Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple out ran Peter and got there first. He stopped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus' head was folded up and lying to the side.
Was that important? Absolutely! Is it really significant? Yes! In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, "I'm finished." But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the folded napkin meant, I'm coming back!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Friendship Has Its Reasons

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person. When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.
Some people come into your life for a season, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.
Lifetime relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dr. Oz On Eating Fruit

We all think eating fruit means just buying fruit, cutting it up and popping it into our mouths. It's not that easy. It's important to know how and when to eat fruit. What's the correct way to eat fruit? It means not eating fruit after a meal! Fruit should be eaten on an empty stomach. Eating fruit like that plays a major role in detoxifying your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.
Let's say you eat two slices of bread, then a slice of fruit. The slice of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it's prevented from doing so. In the meantime, the whole meal rots and ferments, and turns to acid. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach, and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil.
Eat your fruit on an empty stomach, or before your meal! You've heard people complain: Every time I eat watermelon I burp, when I eat durian my stomach bloats, when I eat a banana I feel like running to the toilet, etc. This will not happen if you eat the fruit on an empty stomach. Fruit mixes with the putrefying other food and produces gas. Hence, you bloat!
There's no such thing as some fruits, like orange and lemon are acidic, because all fruit becomes alkaline in our body, according to Dr. Herbert Shelton who did research on this matter. If you have mastered the correct way of eating fruit, you have the Secret of Beauty, Longevity, Health, Energy, Happiness and normal weight. When you need to drink fruit juice drink only fresh fruit juice, NOT the concentrated juice from the cans. Don't drink juice that has been heated. Don't eat cooked fruit; you don't get the nutrients at all. You get only the taste. Cooking destroys all of the vitamins. Eating a whole fruit is better than drinking the juice. If you should drink the juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly, because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it. You can go on a 3-day fruit-fast to cleanse your body. Eat fruit and drink fruit juice for just 3 days, and you will be surprised when your friends say how radiant you look!

KIWI: Tiny but mighty, and a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and fiber. Its vitamin C content is twice that of an orange!
AN APPLE a day keeps the doctor away? Although an apple has a low vitamin C content, it has antioxidants and flavonoids which enhances the activity of vitamin C, thereby helping to lower the risk of colon cancer, heart attack and stroke.
STRAWBERRY: Protective Fruit. Strawberries have the highest total antioxidant power among major fruits and protect the body from cancer-causing, blood vessel-clogging free radicals.
EATING 2 - 4 ORANGES a day may help keep colds away, lower cholesterol, prevent and dissolve kidney stones, and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
WATERMELON: Coolest thirst quencher. Composed of 92% water, it is also packed with a giant dose of glutathione, which helps boost our immune system. Also a key source of lycopene, the cancer-fighting oxidant. Also found in watermelon: Vitamin C and Potassium.
GUAVA & PAPAYA: Top awards for vitamin C. They are the clear winners for their high vitamin C content. Guava is also rich in fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Papaya is rich in carotene, good for your eyes.

DRINKING COLD WATER AFTER A MEAL = CANCER!
Can you believe this? For those who like to drink cold water, this applies to you. It's nice to have a cold drink after a meal, however, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you've just consumed, which slows digestion. Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.
HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE
Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. Sixty percent of people who have a heart attack while they're asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Be careful, and be aware. The more we know, the better our chance to survive.

Pray If You Want To

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin , but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his Theory of Evolution. Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire Book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.
But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America and Canada , countries founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect -- somebody chanting Hare Krishna? If I went to a football game in Jerusalem , I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad , I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer. If I went to a ping pong match in China , I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome . .. .
But what about the atheists? Is another argument. What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!
Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations. Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying. God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.
The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want.. It is time that the majority rules! It's time we tell them, "You don't have to pray; you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him.. That is your right, and we will honor your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN!" God bless us one and all . . . Especially those who denounce Him, God bless America and Canada, despite all our faults, We are still the greatest nations of all. God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.
Let's make 2011 the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions. And our military forces come home from all the wars. Keep looking up.

Andy Rooney's commentary on prayer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If Your Life Was Perfect

If you never felt pain, then how would you know that I am a Healer?
If you never had to pray, how would you know that I am a Deliverer?
If you never had a trial, how could you call yourself an overcomer?
If you never felt sadness, how would you know that I am a Comforter?
If you never made a mistake, how would you know that I am a Forgiver?
If you knew all, how would you know that I will answer your questions?
If you never were in trouble, how would you know that I will come to your rescue?
If you never were broken, then how would you know that I can make you whole?
If you never had a problem, how would you know that I can solve them?
If you never had any suffering, then how would you know what I went through?
If you never went through the fire, then how would you become pure?
If I gave you all things, how would you appreciate them?
If I never corrected you, how would you know that I love you?
If you had all power, then how would you learn to depend on me?
If your life was perfect, then what would you need me for?
Love,
Jesus
God our Father, walk through my house
take away all my worries and illnesses
watch over and heal my family in Jesus name. Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Congressional Medal of Honor Society

As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open. The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away. I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him.
I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to the old man.. I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying:
'You shouldn't even be allowed to drive a car at your age.' And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot. I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine. He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough, and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight, and as I got near him I said, 'Looks like you're having a problem.'
He smiled sheepishly, and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself, and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around, I saw a gas station up the road, and I told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station and went I inside. I saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them, and related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him. The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine), I spoke with the old gentleman. When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, 'What outfit did you serve with?' He had mentioned that he served with the first Marine Division at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. He had hit all the big ones and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me. I told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card.
He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my pocket. We all shook hands all around again, and I said my goodbye's to his wife. I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at the station, I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me. One of them pulled out a card from his pocket, looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off.
For some reason I had gone about two blocks, when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name was written: 'Congressional Medal of Honor Society.' I sat there motionless, looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have been in his presence.

United States Postal Service

Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God,
Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
Love,
Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it.. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.
Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.' Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away.
Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I'm easy to find, I am wherever there is love.
Love,
God

Sunday, April 10, 2011

God’s Grace

There once was a man named George Thomas, pastor in a small New England town. One Easter Sunday morning he came to the Church carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak.... "I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the lad and asked, "What do you have there, son?" "Just some old birds," came the reply. "What are you going to do with them?" I asked.
"Take them home and have fun with them," he answered. "I'm going to tease them and pull out their feathers to make them fight. I'm going to have a real good time." "But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?" "Oh, I got some cats," said the little boy. "They like birds. I'll take them to them."
The pastor was silent for a moment. "How much do you want for those birds, son?" "Huh?? !!! Why, you don't want them birds, mister. They're just plain old field birds. They don't sing. They aren’t even pretty!" "How much?" the pastor asked again. The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, "$10?" The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill. He placed it in the boy's hand. In a flash, the boy was gone. The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free. Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story:
One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. "Yes, sir, I just caught a world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn't resist. Got them all!" "What are you going to do with them?" Jesus asked. Satan replied, "Oh, I'm going to have fun! I'm going to teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I'm going to teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I'm really going to have fun!" "And what will you do when you are done with them?" Jesus asked. "Oh, I'll kill them," Satan glared proudly. "How much do you want for them?" Jesus asked. "Oh, you don't want those people. They aren’t any good. Why, you'll take them and they'll just hate you. They'll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don't want those people!!" "How much? He asked again. Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, "All your blood, tears and your life." Jesus said, "DONE!" Then He paid the price. The pastor picked up the cage and walked from the pulpit. I pray, for everyone who sends this on, whether to their entire address book or just a few, that God will bless them in a special way. And for those that just deleted it......... and I KNOW there will be...... ? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? I thank God everyday for my blessed life. I'm not rich, don't live in a mansion and don't have the nicest of material things, but, I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my table, a family that loves me and lifelong friends to get me through. I'd say I have a lot to be thankful for.

How Heavy Is The Glass

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'..... she fooled them all... "How heavy is this glass of water?", she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."
"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night... pick them up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short, so enjoy it!

1. Accept the fact that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue!
2. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
3. Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
4. Drive carefully... It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.
5. If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
6. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
7. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
8. Never buy a car you can't push.
9. Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
10. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
11. Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
12. The second mouse gets the cheese.
13. When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
14. Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
15. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
16. Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
17. We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
18. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Too Busy for a Friend

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.
That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. 'Really?' she heard whispered. 'I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!' and, 'I didn't know others liked me so much,' were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.
Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. 'Were you Mark's math teacher?' he asked. She nodded: 'yes.' Then he said: 'Mark talked about you a lot.'
After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher. 'We want to show you something,' his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket 'They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.' Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.
'Thank you so much for doing that,' Mark's mother said. 'As you can see, Mark treasured it.' All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, 'I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home.' Chuck's wife said, 'Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.' 'I have mine too,' Marilyn said. 'It's in my diary'. Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. 'I carry this with me at all times,' Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: 'I think we all saved our lists'. That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Celebrating St. Clare of Assisi

Within each of us is the potential to be a light focusing attention on God's presence in our world. Clare of Assisi's life reveals just how much light she shed. As a friend and as cofounder of the Franciscan movement, she supported Francis as he discerned God's message for himself and his followers. Together with her sisters, she wrote the first Rule written for religious women by a woman. She modeled the ability for the authority or power of a group to be held by the entire group (collegiality).
Clare was born in 1193 in Assisi, a small town in the scenic Umbrian Valley of Italy. She was born of nobility, the oldest child of Ortulana and Favarone di Offreduccio. At the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century, Italy was a cauldron of political and military strife. Society was divided into two groups: the maiores and minores. The maiores were the nobility. The minores were former serfs, who had become merchants, craftsmen and field workers. These two groups were continually fighting for power among themselves.
In her early youth, Clare was exiled to Perugia. While the men in the family were off fighting their wars, the women chose to live as penitents. Ortulana, along with her daughters, as well as other women among Clare's family and friends, were fasting, praying, bringing food to the poor and visiting prisoners. This time of suffering and exile became a time of spiritual formation. Many of the women living with Clare in Perugia, including her mother and sisters, later became some of Clare's first followers in San Damiano.
In 1205, Clare's family returned to Assisi. Francis had already begun his conversion. He had publicly renounced his father and started rebuilding San Damiano. In 1208, he began preaching. Clare's cousin Rufino became one of his early followers. Clare's household had to have experienced the stir that Francis was causing. An eyewitness, cited in the Acts of the Process of Canonization [of Clare], said that, during this time, Clare went to hear Francis preach, gave him some money to rebuild churches and to feed the poor, and arranged to talk to him in private.
Clare and Francis were both experiencing God breaking into their lives, changing them and calling them to give themselves over to God. Both were facing unknowns and both were probably frightened and unsure of themselves. It must have been a comforting grace to meet a kindred spirit and to encounter another human being who was experiencing the same call and facing the same doubts. Clare's sister Beatrice tells us (in the document of the canonization process) that Francis first initiated the visit with Clare. Some speculation suggests that women were asking to join his movement and Francis needed a strong woman to lead the others. Clare's reputation for holiness was well known in Assisi. She would be the perfect leader. Who went to whom first is unimportant. The important reality was that God had a plan and that Francis and Clare were open to being led.
Francis and the brothers received Clare on Palm Sunday night at the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels (the Portiuncula) in the year 1212. Shortly after this, she was taken to San Paolo, a Benedictine monastery in Bastia. The men in Clare's family were not happy with her following Francis. Their power and wealth were diminishing with the changes in society. Clare was beautiful and they had hoped that her marriage would bring prestige and continued wealth into the family. They followed her to San Paolo with every intention of bringing her home. Clare instead held on to the altar and claimed sanctuary. She had made her choice. She would never turn back.
Clare's sister Catherine, soon to be called Agnes, joined Clare. The two lived for a while with a group of Beguines (13th-century women under vows) in Sant'Angelo in Panzo until Francis brought them to the church of San Damiano. There, the Lord gave them sisters and their community grew quickly.
Clare's community was to be vastly different from the monastic communities of her time. The sisters were to live poorly without large land holdings. Like Francis, their Rule would be to embrace the gospel form of life. They would all be of equal rank, and all decisions affecting their life would be made by all of them. They would have an abbess, but she would consider herself "the servant of the sisters" and she would lead more by her example of virtue than by instruction or admonition. Clare was the perfect follower of Francis. She understood his message and would spend her entire life making it a lived reality. Her life and the lives of the early sisters, however, were not easy ones.
Francis died young. Clare outlived him by 27 years. She remained firm and kept the ideal alive, despite Francis' absence and the dissension among his brothers. The Church would see the poverty of her life as too difficult. She negotiated with popes and worked to get her Rule approved until the day before she died—August 10, 1253. Most of her life, Clare lived with sickness. While she complained little of her own illness, she is known for frequently healing others. She lived an enclosed life within the narrow confines of a small monastery in Assisi. Yet her story is known around the entire world today.
Clare was a woman of prayer, and her entire life was lived in trust of the God whom she knew loved her. She needed little material wealth because she trusted that God would care for all her physical needs. God never let her down. It takes deep faith to live so, but anyone who has tried to live dependent on God learns quickly the joy of simplicity. Clutter blocks freedom and blurs perception. Living simply helps one develop an attitude or willingness to be emptied. One quickly learns what is important. Those who live simply learn to live with open hands: to appreciate what is given but to be equally willing to let go, when letting go is what is needed. Contemplative living was Clare's reason for living simply. One needs to be poor to have the space to meet God. Clare, by her way of life, witnessed to others the one thing necessary and found herself united with all people in sharing her need for and reliance on God.
The most genuine poverty seems to come from within. Individuals in poverty make families and communities poor. Life's biggest challenge seems to be embracing inner poverty. It takes real honesty to face oneself, to acknowledge clinging to possessions and to admit attraction to power and privilege, tendencies we all share. Courage is needed to be poor, to recognize the need for conversion and not to be overwhelmed by it. Embracing inner poverty can turn lives upside down. In facing the struggle, though, we—like Clare—can recognize that areas of weakness are also areas of grace. Our own struggle with sinfulness teaches patience and forgiveness as we encounter the mistakes and failures of others. Conversion is the only route to transformation. Poverty frees and enables Christians to face the cross. In experiencing the cross, we—like Clare—are transformed.
Clare, in a letter to Ermentrude of Bruges (a Flemish founder trying to live in the spirit of Clare and her followers), tells us: "Love God and Jesus, who was crucified for us, from the depth of your heart, and never let the thought of Him leave your mind. Meditate constantly on the mysteries of the cross. Do not be afraid, my daughters. God, who is faithful in all His works and holy in all His deeds, will pour out His blessings upon you. God will be your helper and best consoler. God is our redeemer and our eternal reward."
Suffering is a part of life. No one can escape suffering, but how it's understood informs and influences how one handles it. Clare focused her daughters on Christ crucified. She prayed before the crucified Jesus and contemplated the Gospel accounts of the Passion. At first glance, this can seem like an unhealthy stress on pain or a glorification of suffering. That was not Clare's intention. Clare knew that staying with Jesus in the Passion accounts would move her beyond suffering to a deep realization of Jesus' love. Recognizing such love creates a burning desire to be one with the crucified. In short, there is no embracing the cross that does not lead to at least hints of resurrection!
St. Clare was no victim-martyr. She did not go out searching for suffering. She was, however, open to facing the suffering that came her way. She knew grace would be present and that this grace would give her the strength and courage she needed. It would also give her the vision to see beyond herself and grasp the insights that only God could teach. Clare learned that embracing the cross opens one totally to God, who keeps teaching the depths of love. This union with God unites neighbors. Our suffering becomes one with that of others. Together, we learn the compassion and love mirrored by Jesus.
Clare wrote four letters to Agnes of Prague, the queen of Bohemia, who became a Poor Clare. (Clare's sister Agnes is known as Agnes of Assisi.) In her third letter to Agnes, she writes, "The soul of a faithful person is greater than heaven itself, since the heavens and the rest of creation can not contain the creator and only the faithful soul is God's dwelling place and throne. As the glorious Virgin of Virgins carried Jesus materially, so we too, by following in her footprints, especially those of poverty and humility, can without a doubt, always carry Him spiritually in our chaste and virginal bodies, holding the one by whom all things are held together, possessing that which in comparison with the other transitory possessions of the world, we will possess more securely."
Taking these words to Agnes seriously would change the way people look at themselves and others. The answer lies within. The realization of this "indwelling of God" calls for a respect and an appreciation for who we are. Clare taught her sisters to see themselves as temples of God, mirrors of Christ and revelations of the Holy Spirit. Such servanthood holds none of the unhealthy implications of being either slaves or doormats. It calls us to mirror the self-emptying compassion we have seen mirrored in Jesus. It is the same Jesus, as we clearly know, who dwells in our neighbor. Our neighbors are also temples of God, mirrors of Christ and revelations of the Spirit. Our God dwells in each of us and each of us uniquely manifests our God. Like Mary, we are called to birth our God for one another, to bring to life the reality of God's presence.
Service goes beyond merely doing for one another. Service, in Clare's view, is a calling to be reflections of God for one another. Within each of us, Clare saw clearly, is a seed that awaits birth. We are encouraged to endure life's labor pangs and bring forth life. Not to do so would be to have the manifestation of God be stillborn. This is the vision that Clare held with Francis, one that they both gleaned from the gospel. It is a vision of light embraced by Poor Clares, but one that can illuminate the Church at large in this new century.
Clare’s life and charism live on in the lives of the many Poor Clares living faithfully her spirit in their monasteries today. I would like to share what I see as our message to the world. I believe that, although we live in a small and rather confined space, we touch the world and the whole world touches us. Not many people get to travel to many places or affect large populations. Most of society is enclosed by family structures, jobs and daily routines. Every life has its limits in time and space.
Our life as Clares speaks of the countless areas of potentiality and creativity that emerge within such limits. The contemplative stance opens eyes, ears and heart and invites the individual to hear the "more." The same maple tree can show a new dimension of life to us daily. The same people are ever changing, ever growing and always calling forth new responses from us. Prayer enables us to minister to millions, most of whom we never meet, but for whom we genuinely care. Limited space can either make a world very small and closed in on itself or challenge us to ever keener perceptions and deeper insights. This is a message of hope and importance to those who are "shut-ins," persons enclosed in their bodies through paralysis, to the exile and the prisoner, and to the ordinary person simply trying to find meaning in small daily chores.
We live in a world where commitment is difficult and it seems easier to end a relationship than to try to work it through. Our commitment to sisterhood speaks of our belief in humanity and in the gift we are to one another. We teach that focus on the good unifies. We know the potential for goodness and grace lies within each person, but that it takes work, encouragement and support to help it grow and surface. Living in relationship is hard, but the Clare life models and encourages the forgiveness, the honesty and the patience that can make it happen.
Consumerism attacks on every side. The commercials on television, the advertisements in magazines and the billboards on our highways all tell us of things we absolutely must have in order to be happy. Following Clare, we profess that less is more. Who we are is more important than what we have. Living simply opens one to an appreciation of what one already has. Our life teaches appreciation for the little things: a single flower, a homemade birthday card, fresh bread and the smile of another. Our prayer is the prayer of the ordinary. We claim a mysticism of everyday. It is not a form of prayer reserved for the special, the gifted or the holier. Everyone is called to walk in the presence of God. Our ordinary mysticism is within the reach of all people.
We live in a hurting world. Suffering overwhelms people. We are not removed from that reality. We see it on the daily news. We hear it in the pleas for prayer contained in the e-mails, letters and phone calls that we receive. We touch it in our neighbors, our families and our own lives. We cannot remove or take away all the pain that we witness. Life is messy; even Jesus did not clean up all the messiness in the lives of the people he encountered. St. Clare has taught us to bring our messiness to God. God teaches us what we need to know. We are always looking for solutions. Our contemplative life teaches us that answers are not always clearly visible or even available. Yet, our contemplative stance also teaches a way of living peacefully with the questions. Our way of life is not a way of ignorance or avoidance of reality. It is a way of faith. It is a way of knowing that God is bigger than we are! It is a way of believing that God always comes through. Circumstances do not always change. Cures do not always happen, but faith, hope and love change people. Inherent in the Poor Clare vocation is the call to be healers. Helping others to be whole is to show them the way to holiness.
More than 20,000 Poor Clares live in 76 countries. Forty-six monasteries exist in the United States, including three houses of Capuchin Poor Clares with roots in Mexico and one Byzantine foundation.

By Sister Claire André Gagliardi, O.S.C. (St. Anthony Messenger)